MSI GeForce RTX 2080 DUKE OC 8 GB Graphics Card Review – $829.99 US For Tri-Frozr Cooler on Founders Edition PCB
MSI GeForce RTX 2080 DUKE OCSeptember 2018
MSI GeForce RTX 2080 DUKE OC Closer Look
MSI’s Tri Frozr heat sinks are some of the biggest heatsink cooling solutions that I have ever tested. The card measure in at 314 x 120 x 46 mm and weighs 1082g. The card takes up two slots inside a chassis so it's easy to install compared to the much bulkier Gaming X Trio variants which I tested earlier.
You would have to keep in mind the height when going for a dual card solution as your case or motherboard PCIe slot combination may not allow such setup. The cooling shroud extends all the way to the back of the PCB and it requires a casing with good interior space for proper installation.
The back of the card features a solid backplate which looks stunning and offers a premium look. There's a lot of nifty features about this backplate which I will come back to shortly as you continue reading this review.
In terms of design, we are looking at an updated version of the Tri Frozr "DUKE" series heatsink which is now in its fifth variation. The first variation started off with the GTX 780 Ti Lightning, the second was the 980 Ti Lightning, then came the 1080 Ti Gaming X Trio and soon the 1080 Ti Lightning and now we have the RTX 20 series Gaming X Trio models. There was also a variation of the Tri-Frozr that shipped last year under the DUKE GTX 1080 Ti brand but now the series has got more attention to detail.
The new heatsink looks like a more tamed down version of the Gaming X Trio with the main changes being the shroud and heatsink design that feature an aggressive shroud design on the front with metallic covers, absorbing the black and silver color platelets while featuring the RGB emitting accent points on the sides.
Coming to the fans, the card actually features two different fan designs based on the Torx 2.0 system. All three fans combine traditional and dispersion fan blade technology to offer better cooling performance.
The dispersion fan blade technology has a steeper curved blade that accelerates airflow and as such increases effectiveness in keeping the GPU cool. All fans deploy double ball bearing design and can last a long time while operating silently.
MSI also features their Zero Frozr technology on the Tri Frozr heatsink. This feature won’t spin the fans on the card unless they reach a certain threshold. In the case of the Tri Frozr heatsink, that limit is set to 60C. If the card is operating under 60C, the fans won’t spin which means no extra noise would be generated. Additionally, the fan next to the exhaust port has a different temp limit, set at 56C compared to the 60C limit for the other two fans.
I am back at talking about the full-coverage, full metal-based backplate which both card use. The whole plate is made of solid metal with rounded edges that add to the durability of this card. The brushed silver finish on the backplate gives a unique aesthetic.
There are cutouts in screw placements to easily reach the points on the graphics card. There are open vents for the hot air to move out from the back too. We can also see the MSI Dragon logo on the back which looks stunning. MSI is also using heat pads beneath the backplate which offer more cooling to the electrical circuitry on the PCB.
Gone is SLI and now we have the latest NVLINK gold finger connectors. The RTX 2080 comes with a single NVLINK connector which allows for 2-Way multi-GPU functionality. The RTX 2080 Ti and RTX 2080 are the only cards to support NVLINK connectivity so multi-GPU is only for the high-end spectrum of cards and for good reason. Only these cards have enough bandwidth that can drive another GPU of their tier as anything below wouldn't have the power to interlink to the other card.
A single x8 NVLINK channel provides 25 GB/s peak bandwidth. There are two x8 links on the TU102 GPU and a single x8 link on the Turing TU104 GPU. The TU102 GPU features 50 GB/s of bandwidth in parallel and 100 GB/s bandwidth bi-directionally. Using NVLINK on high-end cards would be beneficial in high-resolution gaming but there’s a reason NVIDIA still restricts users from doing 3 and 4 way SLI.
Multi-GPU still isn’t optimized so you won’t see much benefits unless you are running the highest end graphics cards. That’s another reason why the RTX 2070 is deprived of NVLINK connectors. The NVLINK connectors cost $79 US each and are sold separately. Currently, only NVIDIA is selling them as the AIB cards don’t include any such connectors but that may change once the standard is adopted widely.
With the outsides of the card done, I will now start taking a glance at what's beneath the hood of these monster graphics cards. The first thing to catch my eye is the huge fin stack that's part of the beefy heatsink which the cards utilize.
The large fin stack runs all the way from the front and to the back of the PCB and is so thick that you can barely see through it. It also comes with the wave-curved fin stack design which I want to shed some light on as it is a turn away from traditional fin design and one that may actually offer better cooling on such power-hungry graphics cards such as the Turing based GeForce RTX 2080.
The heatsink has been designed to be denser by using an advanced airflow design. It allows more air to pass through the fins smoothly, without causing any turbulence that would result in unwanted noise. Airflow Control Technology guides the airflow directly onto the heat pipes, while simultaneously creating more surface area for the air to absorb more heat before leaving the heatsink.
The MSI GeForce RTX 2080 DUKE OC comes with a factory overclock out of the box. Being so, it uses a dual 8 Pin connector configuration. The card is rated at a TDP of 245W officially by MSI.
I/O on the graphics card sticks with the reference scheme which includes three Display Port 1.4a, a single HDMI 2.0b and a single USB Type-C port for VirtualLink connectivity to high-end HMD (Head Mounted Displays).
MSI GeForce RTX 20 DUKE OC Series RGB Lighting Gallery:
MSI DUKE OC series cards utilize their Mystic Light RGB technology to offer you a visually pleasing lighting experience on your graphics cards. The entire side logo and the accent LED bar comes with MSI's Mystic Light support. You can fully customize the RGB lights to your preference using the MSI Mystic Light application from MSI's web page.
Following is what the graphics card looks like when lit up.